On September 21, 2012, New Jersey Governor Christie signed into law an amendment to the Permit Extension Act of 2008 (the PEA Amendment). The Permit Extension Act of 2008 (the Permit Extension Act or Act) initially tolled the period of approval of certain development approvals from January 2, 2007 through December 31, 2010. Effective January 18, 2012, the Act was amended to extend the tolling period through December 31, 2012. The PEA Amendment further extends the tolling period through December 31, 2014 and also makes changes to the scope of permits and approvals that are covered by the Act. The following is a summary of the key changes to the Act:
EXTENSION PERIOD. The “Extension Period” was extended by two years. The period of approval of all approvals covered by the Act is now tolled until December 31, 2014. The Act continues to provide that the tolling period shall not extend the life of any approval more than six months beyond the conclusion of the tolling period (i.e., June 30, 2015).
PLANNING AREAS 4B AND 5. The Act previously excluded all projects located in areas designated pursuant to the State Development and Redevelopment Plan as Planning Area 4B (Rural/Environmentally Sensitive) or Planning Area 5 (environmentally sensitive). The PEA Amendment grants retroactive tolling for all approvals located within Planning Area 4B or Planning Area 5, if the project is in a designated center or a designated growth center in an endorsed plan.
CRITICAL ENVIRONMENTAL SITES. Approvals for projects within an area designated pursuant to the State Development and Redevelopment Plan as a critical environmental site were previously not entitled to tolling. The PEA Amendment grants retroactive tolling to such approvals if they are located in the “Extension Area”, which includes Planning Area 1 (Metropolitan), Planning Area 2 (Suburban), Planning Area 3 (Fringe Planning Area) and Planning Area 4A (Rural Planning Area) in the State Plan, or a designated center, or a designated growth center in an endorsed plan subject to certain time limitations set forth in the PEA Amendment.
HIGHLANDS PLANNING AREA. Prior to the PEA Amendment, the Act did not cover approvals within the Highlands Region (both Preservation Area and Planning Area), except for areas designated for growth in the Highlands Regional Master Plan. Approvals in the Highlands Planning Area are now retroactively tolled by the Act as long as the municipality in which the project is located has not adopted, as of May 1, 2012, a Highlands master plan element, a Highlands land use ordinance, or an environmental resource inventory, unless the permit or approval is for a project located within a Highlands center designated by the Highlands Water Protection and Planning Council, in which case the approvals are retroactively tolled regardless of whether the municipality in which the project is located has adopted a Highlands master plan element, a Highlands land use ordinance, or an environmental resource inventory.
LIMITATION ON TOLLING IN THE HIGHLANDS PLANNING AREA. Note, the continued exclusion from tolling for all projects located in Planning Area 4B and Planning Area 5 on the State Plan (unless located in a designated center, or a designated growth center in an endorsed plan), is a significant limitation on the new retroactive tolling of approvals in the Highlands Planning Area.
HIGHLANDS PRESERVATION AREA. The PEA Amendment actually further limits the tolling of approvals within the Preservation Area of the Highlands Region. The Act initially covered approvals for projects in the Preservation Area that were located in areas designated for growth in the Highlands Regional Master Plan. The PEA Amendment includes a blanket exclusion from tolling for all projects in the Preservation Area.
SEWERAGE CAPACITY AGREEMENTS. The PEA Amendment clarifies that any agreement with a governmental authority for the use or reservation of sewerage capacity is an “Approval” that can benefit from the tolling period under the Act.